Freedom of Consequences

Boo Hoo Hoo! πŸ˜€

Around February, 2008… approximately five (5) months ago, I decided to ask a member of the video message board, Seesmic if he REALLY, REALLY, REALLY, REALLY, REALLY wanted to represent himself as he did in a video that he made.

What happened? People started crying. BOO HOO HOO! YOU’RE BEING MEAN! YOU’RE TELLING HIM WHAT TO DO! BOO HOO HOO! πŸ˜€

Fast forward 5 months to this week’s events… where a *different* person got penalized for video that HE posted to the internet. Did he post it ~ a year ago? Yes. Was he penalized for it this week? Yes.

So now, maybe people can stop CRYING and WAKE UP! πŸ˜€ It doesn’t matter if you’re having a so-called private conversation with a so-called friend of yours if it’s AVAILABLE FOR THE PUBLIC TO VIEW. People are going to look at the one video that you did and make their own decisions about your content and about YOU as a person. They’re going to decide whether they want to socialize with “a person like this”. They’re going to decide whether they want to HIRE “a person like this”. They’re going to decide whether they want to SPONSOR “a person like this”.

The point I was trying to get across, almost half a year ago, is that all of your content is standalone. You have to treat every video and every text post and every picture as if people are going to look at that ONE item and form judgements about you. You can’t rely on OTHER posts to pull you back into the frying pan out of the fire. You can’t rely on other people vouching for your character, ESPECIALLY when your video is viewed outside the realm in which your friends have juice. If nobody’s ever heard of your friends or they just don’t care what your friends opinions are, you’re short.

The reason people were CRYING is because they want the internet to be about freedom of speech. Unfortunately for them, they’re missing the other side of the coin…

Freedom of Consequences

Yes, you are free and clear to use whatever low-class terms you like when you make video, audio or text posts to the internet. What happens next is… PEOPLE SEE YOU AS LOW-CLASS. Good for you. You’ve achieved your goal. You expressed yourself, and people have a new image of you that you’ve created. Similarly, if you create a video that people see as offensive… PEOPLE SEE YOU AS AN OFFENSIVE PERSON. That’s the way it works. You express yourself, and then, as Otir pointed out, you have ZERO CONTROL over what other people receive and internalize based on what you posted. This is what’s simultaneously fantastic and unfortunate about communication, especially on the internet.

Does it matter that whatever video you’re getting penalized for is a year old? No. People that saw it for the first time TODAY… feel upset about it TODAY…. NOT last year. Unfortunately, the fact that posts, especially video and audio are STANDALONE items means that whatever the focal point is of people being upset can now be embedded ad infinitum all over the web. Guess what? Your context is GONE! The text you wrote on your original page with the video? GONE! The links you had on that page to supporting material? GONE! Your entire library of work up until and surpassing that time? GONE! Comments from posters and/or supporters? GONE! The only thing that’s left is the content that you uploaded and the thoughts of the person who’s newly embedded your video on their page so they can show THEIR FRIENDS that you’re “a person like this”.

I was having a conversation IRL just last night, in which I thought I was anonymous, and then the chick… um… woman says “I’ve read your blog“, hahaha and it was time to change gears. Not because I was being inauthentic beforehand, but because now, I was aware that I wasn’t working with a clean slate. πŸ˜€ We still had a great and interesting convo, but it had already been tinted by her impression of who I am or what I’m about from reading my blog.

That’s the way it works. You express. Other people receive and take away what they want from what you expressed, regardless of your intentions when you posted the text, audio or video. I touched on this in a joking way in “Do NOT Let This Happen To You! :/”. I was saying “some stuff” and then Annie broke out her xacti and it was time for The Kid to say “other stuff”! πŸ˜€


Permalink: http://pixelcurrents.tv/post/33454768
Again… Not because I was being inauthentic when the camera was off, but because what I was saying wasn’t for general consumption. It was a conversation I was having with my friends and totally wouldn’t have made sense outside of the context that they all had from being friends of mine and actually knowing me. I mean… It would have made sense, πŸ™‚ but I can’t express to randoms the same thing I can express to people that have background knowledge of who I am, what I do and why I do it with anywhere near the same effect.
 
Similarly… If you do a video that you put out on public channels that for some odd reason, you consider private… be prepared for people that you didn’t intend to watch that video to view it and make up their minds about “who you are” as a person. If you do a video that you think is funny to your friends and people that know you, and put it on public channels… be prepared for people that you didn’t intend to watch that video to view it and make up their minds about “who you are” as a person. Is there freedom of speech? Of course there is. There’s also OWNERSHIP. OF. CONSEQUENCES.

That was my whole point back on Seesmic.

I couldn’t care ANY LESS how people express themselves on the net.

I wanted people to realize is that they eventually might have to OWN the consequences of their actions/words/videos, and that’s what we all got a front row seat to this very week.

Welcome to the real world, Neo.

Community vs. Territory

I watched a video just now by Laura “Pistachio” Fitton that clarified for me a distinction I wanted to make, but that previously wasn’t coming together properly for me.


“sxsw seesmic junkies dinner” [permalink]
Now, that was a table FILLED with people that I’m either in direct contact with or follow on social sites: Laura Fitton, Jane Quigley, Jim Long, Phil Campbell, Steve Garfield, Christian Payne (“Documentally”), Patty Hartwell, Shannon Newton, Cathy Brooks

Around 4 minutes 30 seconds, Cathy mentions “community”. By the smiles on the participants’ faces and the fellowship, you can tell that they are all part of a community. What made this post finally possible for me is that while they became a community because of Seesmic, they weren’t interacting via Seesmic. They were IRL, having dinner together, chatting and having a good time. Somehow, what I wanted to talk about clicked after Cathy’s speech and seeing ‘community’ exist in a totally different environment.

There’s a difference between Community and Territory.

The word ‘community’ is often used to indicate ‘territory’… Like they might have a housing project named “Chicago Community”. In fact, those houses are territory. What makes them a community is how people interact with each other WITHIN that territory. You can live near someone and have NOTHING to do with them, not even to say hello as you pass in the street. You can live far from someone and talk to them every day and spend a lot of time with them, virtually on the net or by other means.

Having this feeling of community can easily give one the feeling of dominion over a territory. This is a false feeling, with no standing or merit… UNLESS members of said community are ACTUALLY owners of the territory, appointed agents of those owners, or members of the community that are willing to stand up and accept leadership of that group, lay down laws and enforce them. When there’s nobody in charge, there ARE no rules definable by the community. There are rules definable by THE OWNERS OF THE TERRITORY, which must be followed by all inhabitants of the territory, whether they’re a part of the community or not.

Thus, as popular as *A* community might be, without authority, anything they say regarding the territory is a SUGGESTION, not a MANDATE. It carries ZERO weight, except amongst the people of THAT particular community who are willing to follow the lead of whomever stood up and decided to make a rule… such as “How people SHOULD use this site” “What’s good etiquette on this site” “What new people need to know about this site” “How long posts should be on this site” “How you have to act after you post to this site”…. etc etc etc. It’s all hogwash and trivial banter to anyone that doesn’t subscribe to the community in which this so-called leader has chosen to lay down some laws.

Now… You ask “But, what if there’s only ONE community? Doesn’t that mean community=territory?”

No. πŸ˜€

Even if there’s only one group of people in a territory that calls themselves a community, or in some cases, THE community (like THE HIP HOP VIOLINIST :/), without connection to or authority from the owners of the territory, they have ZERO say in what happens to that territory. Do they have say over their community? Absolutely. Community exists in the ‘heart’ and mind. Inside or outside of the territory, the community thrives as long as there are still people that believe in that community. Dominion over one’s community FEELS LIKE dominion over the territory that community’s sitting on when there’s nobody else there. πŸ˜€

When nobody else has access to become a member of the territory, there’s no turnover. It’s like having the air conditioning circulate air inside your house without bringing in fresh air from the outside. It’s cold, and it feels good, but it’s only representative of a tiny subset of the actual air available inside your house and outside. As soon as others are given access to the territory, strictly by definition, “the” community will shrink drastically in the percentage of the territory in which it can hold court.

As soon as you double the number of currently active participants, assuming that “the” community doesn’t welcome and absorb these new people “into the fold” and assuming everyone contributes an equal amount of posts, the visibility of “the” community is AT LEAST split in half, and they now occupy 50% of the territory. So now, there are at least TWO communities, even if they’re “the originals” and “the newjacks”. Even if the new territory members don’t form a formal community, they’re meeting each other and making connections and having conversations and adding each other to their friends lists and following and replying to their contacts’ posts. Depending on frequency of posting and replying to popular newjack threads, looking at the front page of a site, the presence of the original community (which, of course, was dominion by default, being that nobody else was there) won’t be seen as any stronger or relevant than the new territory members. As a matter of fact, “the originals” will be completely indistinguishable from “the newjacks”. This is only when you merely DOUBLE the number of active participants…..

The ‘solution’ to this is to enjoy COMMUNITY without feeling ENTITLEMENT. If you have constructive comments for people joining the territory that your community has occupied by default up until now, that’s great! πŸ˜€ If you have rules and laws and crabby things to say, “Save it for David”. What you have to say is meaningless without authority. The laws will be handed down by the owners & appointed rulers. In most cases, those are found in the ToS (Terms of Service). There’s no point in trying to defend a territory that you never owned in the first place. There’s no point in trying to maintain “market share” when eventually, ten times the number of people in your community will be “outsiders” occupying the same territory.

What you DO HAVE is YOUR COMMUNITY. You have your friends that you’ve made and socialized with and had good times with. You have the relationships you’ve fostered and the feeling of goodwill that flows between your community members. Nurture that and Enjoy It. πŸ˜€

Connections (Passing it On)

Christian Payne aka Ò€œDocumentallyÒ€ is a photographer and blogger who was commissioned by the UNHCR to photograph the plight of Iraqi refugees in Jordan.

I edited Christian’s work into a video that we’ve recently completed, and he posted this video, thanking me as well as others for what we’ve done:


Seesmic Member Link | Non-member Link

Initially, this post was going to be called “Thanks for the Thanks”, because I definitely appreciate Christian’s authenticity and heartfelt statements. πŸ˜€ “Cheers for that”, as they say over there in the U.K. πŸ˜€

However, that’s really a private communication between Christian and myself that happened to be expressed on a public medium (both his video and my text, above). What I think would be more useful to my 40 readers, according to Technorati (minus however-many registered search engines :p) is to talk about the process of creation, in this case, dealing with video, and the difference that it makes when you’re actually emotionally invested in what you’re doing. Also, I wanted to give Christian some more background on how we ended up working together.

I’m a video blogger, which essentially means I film videos and put them on the internet. We have our own little “echo chamber” of friends and colleagues. I first became aware, sort of, of Phil Campbell on Dan McVicar’s social site “Late Nite Mash”.

Bill Cammack & Dan McVicarBill & Dan in NYC
In November, 2006, Dan collected music pieces from Phil and other members and made a “mash-up” with video footage I sent him of New York City nightlife:

I say “sort of” aware of Phil because at that time, social media wasn’t advanced enough for people to get to know more about each other than what they typed on a page or a picture or video they posted. At this point, we not only have the technology to do our own video shows, like Phil’s “The Gravity”, but there are more and more live services popping up… Ustream, BlogTV, Yahoo! Live, LiveVideo, new services all the time, where we get to see a lot more about people than we used to.

So anyway, I got to know Phil Campbell as a quality guy who STAYS on top of the game when it comes to social media and is simply a treasure trove of good ideas. πŸ˜€

Next in order, Andrew Lipson gave me an invite to this (at the time, invite-only) video-messaging application called Seesmic while I was an audience member of the Jeff Pulver Show. I checked it out, but it really wasn’t my type of conversation going on between the beta-testers, so I just watched Seesmic like a television show instead of participating in the watercooleresque banter.

There were a couple of people there with strong personalities and methods to their madness. The most animated and volatile of them was this character named “Documentally”. πŸ˜€ Most people, once you’ve seen four videos of them, you know their range… or at least the range they’re willing to bring to the world-stage which is Seesmic or any other site where you post videos that people can watch from NYC to Zimbabwe. With Documentally, you never really know what was going to happen in one of his videos. He might say something intelligent and serious. He might say something batty and off the wall. He might say nothing at all. He might roll his truck and videotape the situation as if he’s the first reporter on the scene! πŸ˜€ It was clear from the “Documentally” character that Christian Payne had A LOT of range to his personality, and there was a lot of entertainment value in his videos.

So being a morning person, I tend to chat with the European folks (who are 5/6 hours ahead of us) before the Americans wake up. I’m chatting with Phil Campbell and he mentions that his friend Christian had a project he was working on. I let Phil know I was aware of Documentally and was willing to chat with him about the project. In skypeing with Christian, I got to meet the “hang out at the pub” version instead of the “Seesmic character” version. He’s a nice guy, and as he put it in the video, he’s “someone I’d like to call a friend”. πŸ™‚

I really meant to talk about the actual project, but I’ll do that some other time. This ended up being a post about connections. One of the benefits of social media is that people get to learn about each other at their own pace and according to their own level of interest. Another benefit is that we have checks and balances inside our “echo chamber”. For example, Dina Kaplan and I have 102 “Facebook Friends” in common! :O … Even if you spit that into 50 friends and 50 acquaintances, that means there are *50* people that I can contact right this second and ask them a question about Dina. I’d probably get 15 responses back, and they’d all be approximately the same, because that’s how Dina carries herself. She’s consistent.

Liz Gannes, Bill Cammack & Dina Kaplan
Liz Gannes, Bill Cammack & Dina Kaplan

Through social media, and also by meeting in person @ Adam Quirk‘s event named Vloggercue in Brooklyn, I developed an impression of Phil Campbell as a stand-up guy and a good judge of character. For Phil to bring up Christian’s project to me, I’m automatically *infinitely* more inclined to hear more about it. Yes, it helped A LOT that Christian already had a strong social media presence. Yes, it helped A LOT that the photos he shot for the project are rich and full of emotion, intimacy and meaning. However, the *main* thing is connection… passing it on. Social media offers us the opportunity to get to know each other, asynchronously… and then follow up to find out how the real person matches up to his or her online persona.

Asynchronous Video Threading

I spent the day on Seesmic yesterday and had a 90-post conversation involving several of the members. I’ll say first of all that Seesmic has made TONS of improvements since Andrew Lipson gave me an invite 3 months ago. They’re always making improvements to their site, so this post may very well be outdated relatively soon. πŸ™‚

If you don’t know what Seesmic is, it’s basically like having a conversation with people on a bunch of stickies. In a way, it’s like Twitter, except it’s video and audio instead of text. You get to record a video which goes into the “public” timeline, and other people can watch it just about as soon as you post it. People who see your video can record their own video and make it a reply to your video if they so choose.

They relatively recently implemented threading as a one-dimensional, reverse chronological timeline. This was way better than no threading AT ALL πŸ˜€ but having held a several-hour-long conversation on it that was about actual intellectual concepts, not “what to name a dog” or “who’s going on a date tonight”, I got to experience the downsides of asynchronous video threading in Seesmic’s current format.

The reason I make a point of it being asynchronous is that it’s not a real-time conversation. It’s more like twitter or an email group than it is like Yahoo Live where several people speak to each other simultaneously, or even chat rooms, where everyone’s there at the same time and can jump in with their opinions if they feel like it.

Liz Burr made some excellent points that I hadn’t paid attention to as I was absorbing so many other things during a full day’s use of the app. Someone had made the point that because you record your own video and decide when to stop it, you get to say what you want in its entirety without being interrupted. Liz mentioned that since it’s asynchronous, you can be turned OFF at ANY point, or not listened to at all, as your screen name and icon are attached to your video in the thread. This means you have more of a chance of not.being.heard.at.all. if someone decides that what you have to say isn’t worth listening to based on your behaviors and what you had to say in previous videos. I “knew” this, but I hadn’t processed it until she mentioned it to me. I was already employing that behavior, for example, after listening to a post from someone that I determined was garbage, I would skip anything with their face on it after that.

At this point, I should mention how Seesmic is set up for people to become aware of people’s posts. It’s important to understand this to understand why one-dimensional threading is NOT optimal for an application like this. There’s a “public” timeline that catches everyone’s videos. This is world-wide, but you can set it to only pick up posts in your language. That’s still A LOT of people, and it’s not even open to the public yet. Your next option is a “friends” timeline. You get to choose to “follow” people, and only their videos will show up in this timeline. This is another way you can elect to bypass people whom you’ve determined have nothing valid or intelligent to say… don’t “follow” them. They’ll still show up if you’re looking at a thread that they’ve contributed videos to, but then you resort to visual parsing and skip them as usual.

These abilities to select people to follow and people to “allow to speak” by clicking on their videos and watching them all the way to the end absolutely alters each person’s perception of a thread they arrive to. Seesmic member Otir read a perfect analogy of the situation, telling the story of a bunch of blind people whom were all offered different sections of an elephant to feel and then to give their opinion of what an elephant is like. Each of them had their own perception of “an elephant”, and that perception colored what they had to say about elephants.

First of all, if you’re following certain people, their posts come up in your “friends” timeline. If you click on the member’s icon, you go straight to their opinion. That’s a good thing. However, you’re jumping in in the middle of the thread. You can click “conversation” and see the entire list of posts in that thread. This is where your personal bias comes into play. If you don’t have any respect for the people earlier in the timeline, you might skip their videos entirely, bypassing much of the context of the situation. If there are a whole lot of videos before the person you’re following, you might not be inclined to watch an hour’s worth of posts before you enjoy what you really came here to see… thus, bypassing much of the context of the situation. If you’ve determined that the person you’re following is more credible than others in the thread, you may be inclined to reply along the lines of that personal bias. This is where we get the blind people approaching the elephant from different sides and angles.

Another “problem” with this layout is that what you’re looking at is NOT actually linear other than chronologically. The posts are laid out by the TIME that they were posted to the site, but they are not differentiated by the TANGENT of the thread that that particular post followed. This leads to a circular, “telephone game” situation, because people show up to a thread hours after it started, read something a “friend” of theirs posted, which was dealt with hours ago, and respond to that person’s post without watching all of the surrounding material.

My thread was 90 posts long. Even if each person took only one minute to say what they had to say (and I’ve seen videos that were 5 minutes long, so if there’s a time limit on individual videos, it’s NOT shorter than that), that means that to absorb the entire thread, you’d have to sit there as long as a feature film. People aren’t going to wait that long to reply. As a matter of fact, people started showing up and making NEW threads asking for someone to summarize my thread because they didn’t want to go back and read it all. This is another way that posts get “lost in the sauce”. People show up and want to be involved, but don’t want to put in the work to go back and experience each post.

Another reason it becomes circular is let’s say you have three tangents in a thread. As the original thread participants scramble “left and right” (since it’s all appearing as a one-dimensional timeline) to deal with tangents, 20 posts down the line, someone reads something from a tangent that was already resolved, hits “reply” and now, your 21st post is actually a response to your 5th post. :/ Then, THEIR “friends” see what THEY posted and continue the previously resolved tangent, causing the original thread participants to scramble over there and put out THAT fire… AGAIN. :/ Meanwhile, the thread splinters more and more and is misinterpreted more and more but LOOKS like a single, chronologically-ordered discussion. The snowball rolls further downhill when someone shows up to post #60, which is really only three posts removed from post #5 and doesn’t want to read the rest of the material, so they assume that all 60 posts have been along the same tangent.

Like I said, this only comes into play if you’re trying to have an intelligent conversation. If you’re just socializing via video, you don’t need to worry about tangents and following thoughts and concepts. You just throw up a “me too” post and you’re good… you feel like you’re a part of the conversation, whether people are “following” you or not.

Jan McLaughlin mentioned an addition that I think would work very well in these situations… the ability for the originator to moderate their thread. I suppose the ability to assign mods would be useful as well. A couple of days ago, I left a 32-post thread of mine for a few hours and when I returned, it was around 60. Thinking that there was much interesting material to sift through, I clicked on it, only to realize that two people had started online dating in my thread. :/ Instead of taking their chances in the “public” timeline, the best way to try to get each other’s attention was to click “reply” so that it would show up in their “replies” folder (an alternative timeline to “public” or “friends”. The unfortunate side-effect of this was that as they kept “reply”ing to each other, their posts were being added to my thread.

It would be lovely to have a way to separate irrelevant posts from your thread. It would be lovely to be able to remove videos posted to your thread by people that just showed up to act dumb. Not *delete* them, just remove them from YOUR thread so that new people arriving after the fact wouldn’t bail on your 70-post thread because there are 30 posts worth of online dating inside it that’s completely indistinguishable from on-point conversation in a one-dimensional reverse chronological timeline.

Seesmic’s making tons of improvements, so I’m sure features are coming down the line that will facilitate intelligent conversation, such as GROUPS. The ability to have a discussion only amongst the people that *you* choose would be a major development. There’s no need to block others from reading it. Just stop them from diluting the content and making the originators waste time running around putting out fires. Like I said, they’ve progressed in leaps and bounds in the three months that I’ve been on the service.

Personally, I’m a fan of synchronous interaction, whether we’re talking live video or text chat. Even IRL, I enjoy holding arguments against 5 people at a time. πŸ˜€ The upside of asynchronous conversation is that you only have to make your point ONCE, and everyone hears it and we can all move forward and explore greater depths of the conversation. The downside is that you have to actually BE THERE at the time it’s happening to be a part of it. If you show up hours later, all you can do is watch the archive, if there is one.

The upside of asynchronous conversation is that you can join in on work breaks, when you get out of class, whenever it’s convenient for you, you can add something to an ongoing discussion. The downside is that depending on how much time has elapsed between the beginning of the conversation and your arrival, you might not be willing to put in the work to absorb the entirety of the conversation anyway.

Bill Cammack Ò€’ Cammack Media Group, LLC

Sharing Breakfast

Yesterday was a fantastic day. πŸ˜€

I got to meet Kfir Pravda, who was here for a few hours in NYC Friday morning awaiting his connecting flight to Israel. I was familiar with Kfir from blogging as well as our involvement with the Yahoo Videoblogging Group.

Bill Cammack & Kfir Pravda

We’ve had interesting discussions about the direction of online video and television, but I never figured I’d meet him in person, since I had no plans to travel to Israel.

Fortunately, our schedules and locations coincided, and I was able to enjoy the morning with Kfir, Kathryn Jones, Jeff Pulver and Keren Dagan.

Jeff, Kathryn, Kfir & Keren

One of the benefits of social media is that you can learn about people and their ideas at your own pace. If you see something interesting, you can bookmark their site or add them on a social network or follow them on a status update service. The effect is that you can gain a respect for someone without ever having met them in person, or if you’re a lurker, without them ever even knowing that you exist. I already appreciated Kfir for his ideas before I walked into “The Library” at the Regency Hotel. The intangibles of meeting him in person amplified that appreciation.

As much as you might be able to tell about someone from reading their blog posts or comments, there’s much more to be gleaned from having real-time, F2F conversation with someone. How do you greet each other? Do you have similar senses of humor? Is this person as sharp in a real-time, constantly-evolving conversation as they are in text, which they may have taken an hour to write, or in a video which they may have scripted or rehearsed many times before recording it? Is this someone with whom you would probably have been friends, had the “accident of birth” placed you in the same geographical location?

Previously, I asked “How Social is ‘Social’ Media?”. Yesterday, there was a ton of “Social” and a ton of “Media”! πŸ˜€ Jeff Pulver was broadcasting live to Qik utilizing his Nokia N95 and his portable hotspot (described/shown in the video below).

I recorded a Seesmic video with my MacBook Pro. So, not only did we share breakfast with each other, we shared ‘sharing breakfast’ with our friends on other social media sites as well. πŸ˜€

This time, social media came through BIG TIME! πŸ˜€ Fortunately Keren was keeping an eye on the clock, because our conversation had become three hours long with no end in sight. There really ought to be laws against having so much fun before 2pm! πŸ˜€

It was a pleasure meeting Kfir & Keren. It makes such a difference when someone steps off of a blog page or computer screen and you get to experience them IRL. It was great to hang out with Kathryn & Jeff as well. I’m going to strive to sift through the QUANTITY of consistently increasing adds and contacts and have more QUALITY interactions like this one through social media. πŸ˜€

Bill Cammack Ò€’ Cammack Media Group, LLC

Learn Something New Every Day…

I saw this post by GoldieKatsu on seesmic, where she mentioned that she observes Shomer Negiah, specifically pertaining to following the Orthodox Jewish religious prohibition against shaking hands with the opposite sex…

and I wanted to give my thoughts about the concept and about GoldieKatsu’s SHARING of the concept with us…

Posted for Bill Sobel.